Jillian Daugherty Mavriplis went back to work this morning. in the athletic department of Northern Kentucky University. After spending the summer working as a teacher’s assistant at our local YMCA’s summer camp, Jillian will resume the job loves best.
“NKU is my home,” she texted me this morning, while riding one of the four Metro buses she’ll take to get to and from work every day between now and May.
Frequent readers might know the story: Jillian and her husband Ryan each were students for four years at NKU, part of a pilot program that has won national acclaim. Jillian was a manager for three years of the men’s basketball team there. After she walked the graduation line, the athletic department kept her on. She does multiple jobs, everything from fetching coffee for the athletic director to giving tours to prospective Norse athletes.
Jillian survived a coaching change a few years ago.The coach who hired her six years ago, the saintly Dave Bezold, was let go, along with his entire staff. NKU kept Jillian, for a few reasons:
- She brightens days.
- She’s a hard worker.
Jillian’s perspective on living is one I could learn from: Know what matters, which is whom you love and who loves you… be grateful for the kindness of people. . . return that kindness. That’s pretty much it.
The job gives her the same stuff it gives the rest of us: Respect, dignity, purpose, independence. She and Ryan pay the rent on their apartment. They pay everything, in fact, but the utilities. We in-laws cover those.
I wish the public at large could see them every day, leaving for work, coming home, making dinner, walking the dog, watching TV. They’d see a couple with the same needs, and wants, joy and love, emotions and cares as them. Usually, perception is the hardest nut to crack. In some areas, we have done an OK job. More of our kids are fully included in regular-ed classrooms, more are accepted by their typical peers.
Some are working jobs that match their skill levels, not the public’s preconceptions. That describes Jillian and Ryan, thankfully. And they’re doing their best to pay it forward.
Jillian went back to work today. It was a great day.